Parents are deregistering their children from school to avoid paying school fees, while on the other hand, some schools are reporting that parents are defaulting on paying fees because they have lost their jobs.
Other parents are refusing to pay because their children have not been going to school. This appears to have mainly affected lower grades and pre-schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in most learners losing half of the school year and parents questioning why they should continue paying fees.
A single parent of a Grade 9 learner, who attends a public school, is struggling to pay the R4 000 monthly school fee. And now with the current pandemic, her situation is even worse.
“The school fees are almost R4 000 a month. Sometimes I won’t be able to pay, but you can negotiate with the school. They give you terms on how to pay, but that’s not good enough. It’s going to be worse this year (2020) because we haven’t been paying for months and we are waiting for feedback,” says the parent.
The last time she paid school fees was in March. She does not understand why she should keep paying because, although her son is doing some online education, she feels she is the one shouldering the burden and not the school.
“It is unfair because this online thing, it’s us again who are buying the data; it’s us again who are assisting them. We are using our own things now. So, why am I paying school fees? For material, everything, my data; if there’s research, I have to buy data for him.”
In the video below, online learning is discussed:
She’s not the only one struggling. School governing bodies say many schools are battling because parents are not meeting their financial obligations to schools.
Chairperson of the Federation for South African Schools, Paul Colditz, says some parents cannot afford to pay fees for their children’s education because they’ve lost their jobs while others are simply being defiant.
“Some parents are also refusing or reluctant because they argue they are not receiving a service. But the payment of school fees is a statutory obligation and parents, who are unable to afford the payment, must contact schools to apply for exemptions of school fees in public schools,” says Colditz.
Over 90% of schools in South Africa are no-fee paying schools. However, for fee-paying schools, the money goes towards operational costs including paying for extra teachers.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has called on parents to continue paying.
“And my request, humbly so, to parents who have their children in fee-paying schools is that they must try to pay because the way we fund those schools is different. Where we could be funding R1 300 per learner in Parktown, we are only giving them R100 which means those schools are dependent on parent contribution. So, we are appealing on those parents to continue paying school fees so that schools can continue to run.”
In the video below, Yilungelo Lakho looks at the implications of not paying school fees during the lockdown.